The late Phil Gall was one of the great integrators. He grew up in Tasmania in the 1950s and passed away mid-2023. He was a skilled architect of buildings and landscapes. And he was part of a generation of sharing people who built a knowledge and experience in Permaculture, Keyline, and Biodynamics.
In a conversation with Richard Telford (permacultureprinciples.com) he talks about how his generation were integrators. Phil Gall was proud that his generation shared ideas and collaborated. They questioned things, did the scientific tests, adapted, reflected and become resilient.
Phil said: “I introduced Bill Mollison to P.A. Yeomans one day”. [At first], “they refused to talk to each other. Alex Podolinsky (1925-2019) then said Bah! about Permaculture and Bill said Bah! about Biodynamics. And it took a generation of David Holmgren (I’m a bit older than David) to integrate ideas. We are the integrators for Yeomans, Podolinsky, Peter Bennett and Mollison.”
After a Grand Vision, Careful Trials and Adaption Begin
Because “the visionaries were solo flyers that take no prisoners and have a single-minded focus thinkers on so, no one deters them from their mission. They can’t be persuaded and dilute their vision. And that’s fine, I think, when there’s a need for that and that passion and that single mindedness.”
Visionaries Need Integrators
Phil goes on to point out “beyond that it came for a time for application and adapting it on scale, adapting in different climates and integration. “
“So, for my generation it’s all about that. We would experiment saying “let’s use mineral fertilizers, let’s see what this about the magnetic benefits and different types of Rock Dust. Yeah, that’s interesting! And let’s use Soil- tests appropriately. And let’s not just take the fertilizer companies people advice on how much NPK you need. We said, we shouldn’t being doing it in the first place!”
“We can encourage the soil to naturally release fertility to the plants. “And so, we went back to some of the old-fashioned, medieval and European ideas. Which biodynamics (also) borrows from the ancient traditions. Permaculture borrows from ancient traditions and tribal ways of doing things”.
Phil continued to point out “Permaculture offers a design method philosophy, a way of consciously creating landscapes and using the traditional techniques. And not just being bound by tradition but actually picking and choosing”.
How Does Permaculture Use Integration?
In nature, there is a complex web of relationships. We can copy this our designs by creating useful connections between the components. David Holmgren summarized this as integrating rather than segregating.
Firstly, we analyse some of the major components in the design such as the waste system, a growing area or a processing area such as a kitchen. Then we determine which outputs can become useful inputs for another component. And we find ways to make those connections. For instance, waste from the food preparation area can go directly to a worm farm, then the waste from the worm farm goes directly to a growing area.
The end goal is to create opportunities within your Permaculture Design for the components to have their needs met by another component through a beneficial connection. The permaculture design eventually creates a web of functional connections.
We can use a simple method of connecting the elements with considered placement of cards. Each card contains a analysis of an element. This approach makes the creation of functional links between elements easier. It is almost as simple as playing dominos.
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